Friday, February 6, 2009

Bad energy ideas

I am a Barack Obama admirer. Unfortunately Mr. Obama could not get himself elected and educate himself on energy, so he chose to do the former while neglecting the later. The result is that the stimulus package is just chocked through and through with bad energy ideas many straight out of the Amory Lovins, Joe Romm playbook. Here is some of the energy pork.

$2 billion for renewable-energy research ($400 million for global-warming research)
$2 billion for a “clean coal” power plant in Illinois
$6.2 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program
$3.5 billion for energy-efficiency and conservation block grants
$3.4 billion for the State Energy Program
$200 million for state and local electric-transport projects
$300 million for energy-efficient-appliance rebate programs
$400 million for hybrid cars for state and local governments
$1 billion for the manufacturing of advanced batteries
$1.5 billion for green-technology loan guarantees
$8 billion for innovative-technology loan-guarantee program
$2.4 billion for carbon-capture demonstration projects
$4.5 billion for electricity grid

Not a cent is committed to LFTR research, while billions are being squandered on "clean coal", and renewables. What a waste.


Marcel F. Williams said...

I'm one of those people that believes that R&D money is almost almost always beneficial. Although a 'clean coal' power plant in Obama's home state of 'Illinois' does seem like absolute pork. And even if we could find some environmentally acceptable way to sequester CO2 from fossil fuels (which I doubt), coal mining and coal ash would still be immensely deleterious to the environment.

But future types of commercial nuclear reactors take a long time to be commissioned in the US. The demonstration Pebble Bed reactor won't even begin construction until 2016 and probably won't even be commercially available until at least a decade later.

I'd like to see a full scale demo ADS accelerator thorium or uranium reactor on line by 2020 and commercially on line by 2030.

But right now there is no shortage of uranium for the current generation of nuclear reactors unless we increase nuclear power about 5 or ten times current capacity. And it would probably be a few decades before the world reached that point which is plenty of time for future LFTR and ADS reactors to be ready to deal with any future uranium shortage.

However, using thorium in the current generation of CANDU heavy water reactors could increase uranium supplies five fold right now using plutonium from spent fuel as a starter fuel in a blanket of thorium.

Marcel F. Williams

Jason Ribeiro said...

For the most part, I agree with your assessment Charles. There are a few items that might keep people busy and stimulate some business, but I doubt somewhat that those items will all translate to new jobs. For example, the weatherization assistance program will give many contractors jobs, but will this be enough to warrant hiring new workers? If so, would they be permanent jobs? To the degree those types of questions can be adequately answered will determine how wasteful the effort is.

But it is disappointing no doubt to see so much money going to projects that will definitely go nowhere. That same money could be applied to a LiFTR, but most people are so unfamiliar with the concept they wouldn't know what they would be spending their money on and it would seem foreign to others looking over the bill.

I wish there was an effective way of thrusting LFTR into the mainstream spotlight. If hyperion can get overnight attention, there is no reason why LFTR can't do the same.

Ken said...

"$1.5 billion for green-technology loan guarantees
$8 billion for innovative-technology loan-guarantee program"

If there were a company set up to actually develop the LFTR instead of a couple websites, this would be the money of which you speak. Maybe someone could get a company together and get the loan guarantees and VC money so that we could see something instead of just hearing about it every other day.

I personally think that they should invest the 2 billion in tax breaks for coal burning companies for investment in better emission control rather than build a technology for coal burning when nuclear should supplant it. But I don't believe in the abstinence only mentality, here or elsewhere, we're unfortunately going to be burning the foul stuff for decades to come, might as well reduce the atmospheric pollution, even if all you are doing is shifting it to the ground.


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